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Today I was talking to a person I work with, and she told me that she has started taking a new herb called Essiac. The actual mixture she is taking contains some other herbs, and the assortment is called "Flor-Essence." She said she has read about Essiac, and that it is supposed to have an affect on and possibly cure cancer and diabetes. Naturally, I am skeptical, and I was wondering what your view was on this herb.


Fascinating stuff. I found a web site you might want to check out(http://www.essiacinfo.org) that has a lot of information.


First, I am always skeptical of cancer cures that are not "common knowledge." Really, if someone found something that reliably cured cancer, don't you think they would be front-page news - statues would be commissioned and they would probably receive a Nobel prize.
 

That aside, however, there may be something, somewhere that might work for someone if all of the events are in the correct place. So, I don’t want to dismiss essiac out of hand.
 

Here is a reported composition of essiac (from http://www.herbalists.on.ca). Approximately 30 to 35 grams per batch (one ounce = 28.35 grams):
 

  • Burdock Root pieces (Arctium lappa radix) (cut/sifted) 10 grams
  • Rhubarb Root pieces (Rheum officinale radix) (cut/sifted) 5 grams
  • Slippery Elm Bark pieces (Ulmus fulva cortex) (cut/sifted) 5 grams
  • Sheep Sorrel Herb (Rumex acetifolia herba) (cut/sifted) 10 grams
  • Red Clover Blossom* (Trifolium pratense flora) (cut/sifted) 5 grams - (*=optional)


The efficacy of burdock has not been confirmed in any test either here or in Germany (where they have a very long history of using and scientifically testing herbal preparations.) The German pharmacopoeia does not recommend its use.
 

Rhubarb on the other hand has some positive reports and a long history of use in Chinese medicine, particularly in treating gastrointestinal diseases.
 

I cannot find any comment about Slippery Elm or Sheep Sorrel in any of my references.
 

Red clover is a good cough medicine and has been used in food products for many years.
 

In short, I do not think the stuff is likely to be harmful, but it does not show much promise to be helpful either.
 

 

 

Source: Douglas Holt, Ph.D., Chair of Food Science Program & State Extension Specialist for Food Safety, University of Missouri-Columbia
 

 

 

 

 

 

Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

 

 


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